7K0A00321, Tadpole TrainingSmall businesses, claim your competitive advantage!
As a small business, you are probably very aware of your larger competitors and it can be very easy to be intimidated by them. The trick is not to fall into the trap of trying to match them. If you go head to head with them, the chances are that they will win, so you need to be smart. Much like the Bible story of David and Goliath, as long as you match your strengths to their weaknesses, then you can consistently beat them

There are a variety of factors that can be used to your advantage when competing for business. As someone who delivers sales training in London, I come across this a lot. Although many of these are generalisations, you will see that being smaller can often be a positive thing in the business world. This is why you can achieve real competitive advantage against these ‘so-called’ Goliaths

Respond Faster
Without a complex set of processes to follow, the chances are that your small business can respond much faster than a large company and literally make changes at a moments notice. For example, if you want to introduce an improvement or addition to what you offer, you can do it straight away. A large company may have many levels of authority and approval to go through, meaning that it can take them days, weeks or even months to make a decision and implement it.

Your small business is fast, nimble and able to make things happen. You are a bit like a speed boat, whereas they are like an ocean liner! Make it work for you.

More flexibility
Related to speed of response, is the ability to be flexible, particularly in terms of new market trends.

Often large companies need to focus on large volumes and big markets. They are not really set up to follow new trends, as they will need to check demand, do research and then go through the corporate process of getting it approved.

For a smaller organisation, if you spot a new trend, you have an advantage. You can try it out, work out the likely needs of your target market and adopt it if you think it is right for you. You can become recognised as an innovator in the market. If it doesn’t work, you can just drop it. A large company would not be able to make decisions so easily as they are so overwhelmed by bureaucracy and have to jump through their own self-made ‘hoops’.

Better relationships with customers
This is one of the key areas where larger companies really struggle. A classic example is the use of call centres. How do you feel when you are trying to sort out a computer problem with someone who is obviously in another continent, sounds like they are reading from a script and has such a strong accent that you struggle to understand them? Do you feel like you are getting personal attention? The chances are that you actually feel somewhat alienated.

No matter how much big companies train their customer service staff, it is almost impossible to ensure consistency unless they all complete identical training and follow rigid guidelines. Indeed, they have to, in order to convey a consistent message to the customer, but it does rather take the humanity out of things.

But in a small business, things are completely different. You can take the time to get to know each individual customer and treat them as someone special – treat them like they are your only customer. With a tiny bit of effort, you can show that you are taking a genuine interest in them and their problems and start to build an amazing relationship with them. This is known as building rapport. Once the customer trusts you, they will give you extra information which may help you tailor your solution to their needs much better. The result? A much more satisfied customer who will probably return again and again and hopefully recommend you to others because of that ‘personal touch’ which the big boys can’t match.

Personal connection to the customer
Being close to the customer is important for success in business, and a small business is almost always much closer to the customer than a large one. A small business can meet with the customer more frequently and develop more of a personal relationship than a large company with many layers and departments. Big businesses frequently spend a fortune trying to replicate the intimate personal connections that smaller businesses tend to have with their customers. Customers like to feel understood, valued and special, this is a lot easier to achieve as a smaller business. Customer complaints can be handled faster and on a more personal level in a small company, making long-term customer relations easier and more profitable. Social media is another great facilitator for engaging with clients; the need for expensive advertising is considerably reduced thanks to the digital revolution. When customers have that connection they start to like your brand and trust your service, choosing to use you more often and recommending you to others around them. 

Larger organisations need large customers and markets to sustain them and their large overheads. As a smaller company you can identify a market that a large company would not be interested in and create niche products and services for them. If demand grows, hopefully you will grow at the same time. When the market gets to the stage where the larger companies are interested, you should retain your customers (and fight off the competition) because of your long-standing relationship.

Community Edge
It can be much easier for small businesses to reach local influencers and decision makers and they can often build their business by word of mouth, creating a deeper and more loyal following. As local businesses tend to circulate more of their revenue back into the local community, it is better overall for the local economy.

There are actually so many advantages to being small, that part two is coming tomorrow and we will look at some more!

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